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J Med Libr Assoc. 2010 October; 98(4): 315–316.
PMCID: PMC2947130

How to Give Your Users the LIS Services They Want

Reviewed by JoAnna Woolridge Wall, MLIS, JD

Sheila Pantry, Peter Griffiths 
How to Give Your Users the LIS Services They Want.
London, UK: Facet Publishing. 2009. 192 p. $85.00. ISBN: 978-1-85604-672-5. 

Enticing the Facebook generation to use libraries and electronic services takes special skills. In a time where information is readily available via Google, users are less likely to consult a library and more likely to Twitter their questions to friends and colleagues. To compete with such instant access, library and information science (LIS) professionals must learn more about their users and find ways to make sure that their users' needs are being met. Learning about the users and the ways they perform their searches is paramount to the success of LIS services. The book, How to Give Your Users the LIS Services They Want, provides LIS professionals with practical information to aid in identifying, serving, and retaining their users.

The authors both have histories as professionals in information services and their expertise in determining user needs is apparent in their advice. Sheila Pantry manages an independent information services consultancy and an electronic publishing business and has an extended history of working in information management. Peter Griffiths is an independent information specialist and previously served as head of information in the Office of the Chief Information Office, Home Office, London. Together, they have coauthored five previous books addressing information services [15]. By utilizing their expertise, the authors give practical examples and guidance on creating LIS services tailored to contemporary users.

How To Give Your Users the LIS Services They Want is organized into nine chapters. The book begins by explaining ways to help LIS professionals understand users and gives practical information to guide them in obtaining information about and assessing user habits. Especially useful is the list of potential questions the authors have developed over the years. These questions are designed to identify how users obtain information as well as what their habits are in using the available LIS services.

This type of information audit allows LIS professionals to use the information in a variety of ways. The information can be used to support requests for more financial support, to obtain new databases and web services, and to build more user loyalty. As outlined in chapter two, a significant hurdle most LIS professionals face is potential cutting of LIS programs due to lack of understanding of the services LIS provides. By performing an information audit, LIS professionals can use the results to establish the importance of LIS services to the financial decision makers.

The next issue the authors cover is discovering exactly who the users are. As the book points out, electronic information services have become the norm (p. 34). This means that a user has the potential to be in a different country when obtaining information, which makes the typical methods of user identification more difficult. According to the authors, current users have an entirely different approach to information and knowledge seeking than LIS professionals have previously seen. LIS professionals must now be prepared to anticipate and provide information around the clock, coupled with providing easy access and well-organized information. Pantry and Griffiths highlight the need to understand that users today are unpredictable and, with the rapid changing of technology and information, that provision of services to these users has become more challenging than ever before.

The book next discusses how to utilize the information about users to better predict their needs and plan for future needs. The authors discuss how historic data can be useful in tracking trends and figures and in determining areas in which users may have difficulty. Comparing these data to current user data will allow better management of LIS and a better understanding of what actions need to be taken. The book also highlights the importance of continuing the collection of data to serve users better. Specifically, details are given in utilizing tools such as information audits, surveys, and communication to gather data.

Once data have been analyzed, they can also be used the better to track future information needs. The authors further suggest using data to recognize shortcomings of the organization. This type of information is invaluable when planning for the future. Not only will organizations be able to serve users better, they will also have information for fiscal needs. By demonstrating deficiencies, organizations can reinforce their case for necessary purchases and staffing. This allows for a more stable future for both the organization and users.

Overall, the book is an excellent tool for all LIS professionals. The broad-based information applies to all types of institutions and can be used by professionals throughout the world. Users today seek information from a variety of sources and do not always stop to authenticate the material and determine the accuracy and currency of the information. Users who frequent electronic libraries and information services need to be trained and managed to assure they receive the best experience and most precise information. This book has all the necessary steps in identifying, managing, and keeping users. The authors' use of case studies, literature, and surveys make the book a useful instrument in keeping up with the ever-changing world of LIS.

References

1. Pantry S, Griffiths P. Becoming a successful intrapreneur: a practical guide to creating an innovative information service. UK: Library Association Publishing; 1998.
2. Pantry S, Griffiths P. Developing a successful service plan. New York, NY: Facet Publishing; 2000.
3. Pantry S, Griffiths P. Managing outsourcing in library and information services. New York, NY: Facet Publishing; 2004.
4. Pantry S, Griffiths P. Your essential guide to career success. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Facet Publishing; 2004.
5. Pantry S, Griffiths P. Setting up a library and information service from scratch. New York, NY: Facet Publishing; 2005.

Articles from Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA are provided here courtesy of Medical Library Association